I originally learned about the “Socratic Smackdown” from the Institute of Play on Richard Byrne’s blog way back in 2014. We did Socratic Dialogue discussions frequently in my gifted classes, and my students enjoyed switching things up every once in awhile with this gamified version. The original source of the “Socratic Smackdown” file seemed to disappear for a few years, so I hesitated to recommend it even though I have the PDF already downloaded. However, I am happy to say that I received an email last week that the Institute of Play has transferred its files over to Connected Learning Alliance. You can find and download the “Socratic Smackdown” by going to this link, and clicking on the “Learning Games” button. Here are the rules:
The “Socratic Smackdown” packet provides discussion strategies (my students loved “Devil’s Advocate”), score cards, a rubric, and more. You can, of course, make whatever adaptations you need to account for the number and ability levels of students participating.
We didn’t use “Socratic Smackdown” every time we did a Socratic Dialogue, but it was definitely requested every time. Even when we didn’t use it, I could tell that students were more mindful of the discussion strategies that they used, so their metacognition definitely increased.
“Socratic Smackdown” can be used with any class, not just gifted pull-outs — though it probably is best with 3rd grade and up. In fact, this is actually one activity that benefits from a bit higher numbers in your class because you can have more teams and a more lively discussion.
There are other free resources available for download on this transplanted Institute of Play site, including a “Systems Thinking Design Pack,” so I encourage you to check some of those out as well.
While writing yesterday’s “Game of Phones” post, I started searching my archives and I was surprised to see that I hadn’t mentioned Goosechase Edu. So, let’s rectify that today.
Goosechase is a scavenger hunt app available on the App Store and on Google Play. Players need to download the free app. (If you are using district devices, be sure to verify ahead of time that the app has been approved for use.) Organizers need to create an account online. There is a special, educational version of Goosechase available that has different pricing tiers, so be sure to visit the Edu site rather than the one designed for corporate use.
The pricing can be a bit confusing when you are new to using Goosechase Edu. Suffice it to say that, as a classroom teacher, I found the free plan to work well for my class. This plan allows you to have 5 teams compete against each other during a game. This is in contrast to the next tier, which allows for 10 teams or 40 individuals to play at a time. You only need one device per team, although you can use more – allowing team members to separate to complete different missions.
When the organizer sets up a Goosechase game, he/she adds missions to the hunt. Each mission can be awarded points when completed, and the organizer can determine which missions are weighted more than others. An example of a mission would be the following, which I used in my Principles of Arts class when we were learning about different camera angles:
The organizer can make up missions, or use missions that have already been posted in the Goosechase Mission Bank. In fact, you can even browse the library of public Goosechases, and choose to copy an entire hunt for your own use. Each mission requires that a photo and/or video be submitted in order to complete it.
Like many online student interactives available these days, Goosechase creates a code, which participants will use to join the hunt. Teachers can determine the amount of time for the hunt, and even when missions or automatic messages will appear for participants. (When students first launch Goosechase, remind them to allow for notifications so you can get in touch with them during the hunt.)
I like to mix missions that require some, most, or all of the group to be in the pictures or videos as well as some images that are of things around campus. This way, the group has some accountability for staying together and on school property. I also go over behavior expectations before they leave the room, stressing that teams must: stay together, not disrupt any other classes going on, stay safe when taking pictures, and return on time. As students are off on the hunt, the organizer can pull up an activity feed to see the missions as they are being completed. I walk around the halls as I monitor the feed to help discourage any temptations for mischief.
With notifications enabled, you can send out a reminder to the teams when time is wrapping up. Give yourself some time to do a debrief at the end, when the class can look at the team submissions and decide as a group how to assess them before declaring the final winners. One of my favorite features of the game is that you can actually download all of the submissions to save for the future end-of-the-year slideshows or other reminders of silly learning experiences in class.
There are plenty of Goosechase games in the library related to core curriculum that you can use. Another great way to use Goosechase is in a unit on Growth Mindset. I worked with my 8th graders on this a lot last year. We talked about taking risks and solving problems, and then I sent them off to complete the following set of missions:
Here is what I like about Goosechase: students can get out of their seats, students can be creative, students can choose the missions they want to do, we can laugh together as we learn, we are making tangible memories, and even the students who are the least engaged will participate.
I wrote a descriptive post about Gimkit last year around this time after learning about it at TCEA 2019. This online quiz game resembles Kahoot, but has some distinct differences which you can read about in my first post.
Since last February, I’ve used Gimkit quite frequently with my students in grades 8-12. It hasn’t lost its novelty, and quite a few of my students asked for it every week. In order to do this, I had to do something that I rarely choose to do with educational resources – I decided to pay for it. (For a great explanation of why Gimkit has chosen to go this route instead of a full-featured free version with advertising, you can read this blog post.)
Why would I pay for something that is available in other versions for free? Because this game is different than anything out there. Not only do students get to “purchase” fun upgrades during the game, but those upgrades can change based on different game themes that the developer (a high school student!) provides throughout the year. For example, “Thanos” was a such a huge hit with my students last spring that when it was offered again for a limited window of time I scheduled an unscheduled review game just so they could play. And don’t even get me started on the buzz that “Humans vs. Zombies” created in my classes in October.
In the past year, the developer has:
improved importing questions from other platforms, such as Quizziz
added “KitCodes” – a mode designed to get your students moving around the classroom instead of just sitting there playing the game
bulked up its website and customer support
continued to be open to educator and student feedback (you can get a sense of this from blog posts like this)
Gimkit takes risks with new ideas constantly being rolled out. In December, the company mysteriously touted a “Winter Challenge.” I told my class we were trying it out, but that I had no idea what we would be expected to do. I hit the button, and everyone’s screens went black. The groans were probably heard downtown. But then numbers started showing up on their screens, and it was clear that this was not a game glitch, that we were supposed to do something. I had no idea what it was, but that didn’t matter. The students started talking it out, and collaborating. As they slowly figured out what was going on, it became clear that some leadership was needed. Again, my presence was superfluous. Natural leaders rose to the occasion, and with everyone’s help, the challenge was accomplished.
The Challenge wasn’t even part of my review. (That began after they completed the Challenge.) Instead of a waste of time, though, it taught my students so many things that I am constantly yammering about anyway – Growth Mindset, Collaboration, Communication, Perseverance. Multiple choice quizzes are generally not very deep learning, but this Challenge threw problem solving into the mix, and that was a huge bonus.
Some of my favorite classroom memories have been made using Gimkit in the past year: students choosing wild nicknames so their classmates won’t know who to target, kids snickering as they “ice” each other, groups gathering around a few classroom monitors because they want to see how the champions fare against each other, cheers and groans when the “Thanos Snap” lists its victims, and everyone clapping when we finally solved the Winter Challenge.
I don’t work for them, and I get no compensation for writing this post. I just really like what Gimkit does for teachers and for students.
A few years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season. I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually on every Friday in November and December. These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child. For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can visit this page.
This year, I have decided to do my annual “Gifts for the Gifted” posts all in one week. This should give anyone who likes to shop ahead of time a good start!
I originally reviewed Disruptus in February of this year. At the time, I was teaching K-5 elementary students in a pull-out gifted and talented program. I am happy to say, now that I have been teaching middle and high school students as well, that this game seems to appeal to players of all ages. Be forewarned, though. In general, the older the player, the more time he or she will need to warm up. Years of being trained to give one right answer has a tendency to discourage wild thinking. But you will notice a subtle shift if you play long enough – as crazy ideas that might have never been voiced begin to appear in the responses.
In a world where we are finally realizing the value of creativity, Disruptus is an excellent way to encourage unique ideas. Whether being played in the classroom or at the family table, Disruptus emboldens participants to turn off their filters of practicality. Players must develop innovative ideas based on the cards that are drawn and the instruction on the cube, and “safe” answers rarely win.
The PicCollage (or PicKids) app is a versatile tool that my students have used for reflection, creating visuals for a report, and telling stories. Recently, I’ve seen a couple of different articles on the web about students and teachers using PicCollage to make game boards. This can range in educational value from creation for fun all of the way to another way to assess learning. In all cases, creativity can be a part of the activity as students can personalize the boards with photos, stickers, and text. For some examples and specific integration ideas, check out these two blog posts: “Digital Game Boards with PicCollage” and “Creating and Playing Games on PicCollage.”
With the Pokemon Go craze in full swing, augmented reality for education may be generating more interest than ever before. Leveraging trends like Pokemon Go in the classroom can certainly provoke student engagement even though education wasn’t the original intent of the game. Whether you choose to modify Pokemon Go, or use one of the many other available apps, augmented reality offers new opportunities to our students for learning – when used correctly.
About 4 years ago, my initial forays into augmented reality were all about the novelty of the technology with my students. They certainly enjoyed those first augmented reality scavenger hunts, but I will readily admit now that more fun than learning took place at the beginning. As I learned how to use tools to create my own augmented reality, I saw the power it could have for sharing presentations on static displays, or delivering messages from people who could not be there physically. Sending augmented reality work by the students home to parents added another dimension to their projects.
Ideas are already cropping up about how Pokemon Go can be used in the classroom, such as this article or these suggestions. Discovery Education also has a detailed blog post of Pokemon Go curriculum integration activities. If you want your students to try to design their own version of Pokemon Go, let them try this Vidcode online version. Once they start figuring out the code, have them branch out to include some of their own graphics and code that ties in to your curriculum.
There is no doubt that you will generate enthusiasm from your students by using augmented reality in the classroom. However, I highly encourage you to read this article by Laura Callisen, which cautions you about the ways good educators should not use this popular trend.
Another thoughtful piece about augmented reality, by Stephen Noonoo, compares the “virtual reality” of our current classrooms to the “augmented reality” learning should reflect – with or without technology.
I expect that the Pokemon Go mania will spawn more augmented reality apps, hopefully with education in mind. My hope is that they will be thoughtful and encourage deep learning while retaining the fun sense of adventure fostered by Pokemon Go.